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More than 1,000 Utahns rallied at the Utah Capitol Thursday for improved insurance coverage for mental health conditions and addictions.

Topping their legislative agenda: expanding Medicaid to cover 123,000 poor and uninsured state residents.

The Affordable Care Act delivers on a promise long hoped for by advocates — mental health parity, by including behavioral care and substance abuse treatment among the 10 essential benefits of health plans sold on the federal insurance marketplace, New rules also require that coverage for mental illness be comparable to coverage for physical ailments.

The law also calls for expanding Medicaid, an optional provision that Republican leaders in Utah have yet to embrace but that advocates say would vastly improve access to care.

Last year 45,600 Utahns received treatment for mental illness, and 274,000 who needed it, didn't get access, according to Rebecca Glathar, executive director of NAMI-Utah. "Keeping things the way they are is not an acceptable choice in Utah," she said.

Roughly 40 percent of Utah's uninsured have a behavioral health condition, addiction or both, according to Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness.

Kirsten Stewart